Archive for the ‘new feature’ Category

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Series authors and work info in your catalog

I’ve added two small-ish features that point the way to other features:

Series Authors: Series pages now show all series authors, with photos if there are any. (The example below is from Star Wars.) Mouse-over a picture to get the name. In general, I want to move in the direction of graphical representations like this. I dislike profile pictures, but this is something different. It’s attractive, I think, and encourages people to add author photos.

Work info in you catalog: You can add the field “Work: Title and author” to your catalog display. In the example below you can see I have two copies of the work, the Histories and that my Penguin edition three Aeschyls play is otherwise known as the Oresteia. Incidentally, it cannot current sort by work title. If you sort by the “shared” column, however, it sorts by shared-copies which basically “groups” by work anyway.

Labels: new feature, new features, series, work pages

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Series improvements

Chris and I have added two small but important features to LibraryThing’s amazing member-driven “series” feature (first blogged here).

First, authors now show series as well as works:

Second, I’ve added a page laying out all the series and series-books in your library. You can find it from your Profile tab under “statistics.” Here’s one from a user with many series, oakesspalding.

Oh, I forgot. FriendFeed, a fast-rising social-network aggregator I haven’t played with, added LibraryThing support a couple days ago.

Labels: new feature, new features, series

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Twenty-five million books!

Back when we had five million books

We just hit 25,000,000 books.

It’s been a good week. LibraryThing and social cataloging were profiled on All Thing Considered and spent more than a day at the top of NPR’s most-emailed list. I was named a “Mover and Shaker” of the library world, a rare thing for a non-librarian. LibraryThing Local, only a few weeks old, hit 20,000 venues (now 23,000). Our Redesign LibraryThing project has been going well too. We unveiled a Bonus batch of free Early Reviewer books. And we opened up the LibraryThing Authors program. We’ve been unusually busy–my statistics (a new feature)—show I’ve already written more words on Talk than any other month, but also happy. And did I mention Casey got to talk about LibraryThing in Taiwan? Good times!

Suggestion contest: We’ve been casting around for an appropriate contest to commemorate the event. We’re going to give the book-pile contests a rest for a while; I’m not sure past winners can be topped. And although the LibraryThing haikus are one of my favorite parts of the site, many members find writing and poetry contests intimidating.

Instead, we’re going to make the contest about LibraryThing itself. I’ve opened up a Talk post: Ten ways to make LibraryThing better.

The rules are:

  • Post only once.
  • Provide no more than ten suggestions.
  • Keep the suggestions short–a few sentences at the most!
  • Focus on your suggestions, not on others’.

The suggestions can be of any kind. Technical requests–feature requests and bug fixes–are fine. But so are tips for how to promote LibraryThing or partnership ideas. You can mix them up–tell us to change the whole design around and go open source, and correct one small spelling error.

This is NOT a vote! You are free to post whatever suggestions you want, but we aren’t going to be tallying up how many times an idea is repeated. Instead, I see this as an opportunity to surface many ideas.

I’m asking that the main thread be kept clear of commentary; I’ve made a second thread for that.

At the end of our “Week of Twenty-Five Million Books” I’ll announce 25 winners. Fifteen will be randomly selected from members who posted. Ten will be selected for one or more of their suggestions. We’ll post our favorite suggestions on the blog, and get to work on at least some of them. Winners get a gift account, and their choice of:

The lucky member: The twenty-five millionth book was The Listerdale mystery, and other stories by Agatha Christie, added by LibraryThing member irkthepurist (Chris Browning). It was added at 2:47pm on Sunday. For his luck, irkthepurist gets a free membership, a CueCat barcode scanner and a t-shirt.

Look out LC! The next big milestone is going to be thirty and then thirty-two million books (specifically 32,124,001). The latter is the size of the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world. That’ll going to be something, isn’t it?

Update: I forgot Rosina Lippi’s banners!


*In case there’s a rush, we’ll allow no more than ten members to claim first dibs on an individual book. The individual must otherwise qualify. Unfortunately, we do not set the country restrictions, which are about who has publishing rights where.

Labels: contests, milestones, new feature, new features

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

New Member Stats


I’ve add two new sub-pages available from your Profile Stats page. They are “Overlap with Legacy Libraries” and “Talk and Group Statistics.”

Overlap with Legacy Libraries is split from the main stats page. We’re up to 13 complete “Legacy Libraries” now—W. H. Auden, Eza Pound and Walker Percy* were just addded. I can’t link to yours directly, but here’s mine.

“Talk and Group Statistics” provides way too much information about how you’ve used the Talk feature, including statistics like total messages, total messages by group and month and even a word count of all messages. (I have apparently written 336,449 words in Talk, which comes to some 1,121 typewritten pages!)

“Talk and Group Statistics” are private—other members can’t see your stats. Privacy aside, we didn’t want the stats to become, um, boasts. For demonstration purposes, however, all LibraryThing employees, however, are wide-open. Check out mine, Chris‘ and John‘s.

By popular demand, I have also included a nostalgia link to “Your first message.” Let me know what other stats you want on Talk.


*I was pleasantly surprised to find Walker Percy also read Thomas S. Kuhn’s The Structure of scientific revolutions and Malinowski’s Magic, science and religion.

Labels: new feature, new features, statistics

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Change us! It’s LibraryThing Zen Garden.

Introducing LibaryThing Zen Garden!

Have you heard of CSS Zen Garden? It’s a legendary website (and popular book) devoted to showing the “power of CSS.” Every page, from the home page to the the military “Zen Army” to the charming old-fashioned movie theater stage set, has the same content, but has been “styled” differently with CSS. For many web developers, the first time they saw CSS Zen Garden was like an effective Zen koan—instant enlightment!

Best of all, most of the designs were submitted by regular web developers, not the site’s developers.

Well, why not let LibraryThing members change the site? Members have been agitating for a design redo for some time now. We’ve posted files for people to play with. Well, why not let them play with the site in real-time? We have been fooling with some designs too. Why not show them off?

Well, step on over to the LibraryThing Zen Garden. You can:

  • Sample different styles.
  • Set your preferred style and browse around the site with it.
  • Create your own styles. Every design you make is available for others to look at.

As a demo, I set five styles under my name:

  • timspalding-1. This is a design Abby, Sonya and I played with one afternoon. Set this to your style and browse around. The subnav on the profile page is different. You’ll also notice the tabs are slightly curved on some browsers.
  • timspalding-2. LibraryThing member existanai sent a few dozen alternate logos. Here’s one. Note the CSS to hide the normal image and use a background image.
  • timspalding-3. Another existanai logo.
  • timspalding-4. Don’t like the logo—kill it!
  • timspalding-5. Screwing things up is funny! But I’ve done it, so it’s not funny anymore. Bonus points for having a browser that displays the BLINK tag.*

Show us what you can do? We want comments on the designs we create, but we really want to see what members want. You don’t need to make a complete design. If you can change a few characters, you can show us a new background color.

I’ve decided not to award any prizes or hold any votes. Design is a very personal thing, and I don’t want anyone feeling left out. All ideas are good, even if they only demonstrate the terribleness of a particular style. Needless to say, if we end up using ideas from your design, we’ll shower you with praise and free memberships.

I’ve made a group for people to talk about designs, swap bits of CSS and so forth. It’s called Redesign LibraryThing.

Incidentally, has anyone ever heard of a site doing this?

Some weeds:

  • I am not a CSS true believer. I use tables for positioning more than I ought. I use <b> when I should use <em>. I torture kittens for fun. Chris is better, but not without sin. This limits what you can do somewhat.
  • Ones with changed logos will not work in IE6. This is about PNG24 transparency, if that means anything to you.
  • The easiest way to work on a design is to modify one of ours. timspalding-1 has comments in it.
  • The CSS you write is added onto our—very complex—CSS. (The main files are this and this, but we wish it were always so simple.) Something like Firebug will come in handy when editing
  • Your default style will not carry throughout the site. Some pages, like catalog, require special tweaks. Other pages just don’t have the code that adds custom CSS.

*Update: Incidentally, I also anticipated that someone would replace the logo with that of a competitor. Ha ha. :)

Labels: new feature, new features, openness

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Introducing LibraryThing Local

Today we* unveil a major new section of the site, LibraryThing Local.

What is it? LibraryThing Local is a gateway to thousands of local bookstores, libraries and book festivals—and to all the author readings, signings, discussions and other events they host. It is our attempt to accomplish what hasn’t happened yet—the effective linking of the online and offline book worlds. Books still don’t fully “work” online; this is a step toward mending them.

LibraryThing Local is a handy reference, but it’s also interactive. You can show off your favorite bookstores and libraries (eg., mine include the Harvard Bookstore, Shakespeare and Company and the Boston Athenaeum) and keep track of interesting events. Then you can find out who else loves the places you do, and who else is going to events. You can also find local members, write comments about the places you love and more.

LibraryThing members rock. LibraryThing Local just opened, but for the past week we’ve let a few members in to check it out and add venues.** They went crazy!

Together, about two-dozen members added over 2,600 venues. The coverage is spotty, covering the members personal interests. So, Paris is a literary desert, but Chicago and Antwerp are a mess of little green and blue dots, and even frosty Juneau (pictured right) is done.*** LibraryThing Local would be boring without content, so everone owes a debt of gratitude to members like SilentInAWay (400), alibrarian (351), christiguc (302), Talbin (242), SqueakyChu (240), boekerij (217) and others for kicking things off so well.

This kind of passion give us hope that LibraryThing Local will swiftly become the web’s best, most complete source for finding bookstores and library—and for the events they throw. Unfortunately, we only got events working yesterday, so there are only 200 so far. Something to work on?

Authors! Publishers! Libraries! Bookstores! Right now, everyone can add events. But they won’t necessarily get to you, so go ahead and add your venues and events. We are experimenting with the concept of “claiming” a venue, so that a bookstore of library can assert control over its basic factual information. (You don’t control the comment wall, of course.) For now, you need to email us. Go to a venue for more details.

Beta, Forevah. LibraryThing Local is not “done.” It’s missing key features, like RSS. And it has a few bugs. For good or ill, that’s how we work around here.

The main planned improvements are:

  • RSS Feeds
  • Fine-grained privacy settings
  • Author and work integration
  • Enhanced features for bookstores and libraries that take part
  • More stats, like the most interesting events

I’ve started two discussion threads:

Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what members think of it. We’ll do our best to make it as good as we can.

Use BookTour! (We do not.) LibraryThing Local was something I’ve wanted to do since visiting Ireland a year ago and not knowing where the bookstores were. But I didn’t get serious about the idea until approached by BookTour.

BookTour is a startup founded by Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail and the upcoming Free. Chris’ idea was to make a central site to collect information about authors on tour.

LibraryThing agreed to be BookTour’s first partnership. But along the way we ran into difficulties. We wanted strong venue information, so members could show off their favorite bookstores and libraries. BookTour is focused on the events more than venues, which include many duplicates. Eventually it became clear to me we were after different things, so we parted ways.

Although LibraryThing Local is now doing some of the same things, I hope blog readers will check out BookTour. I expect them to be adopted by other book-related sites and, at present, their data is more copious than ours. Certainly, no author should tour without first adding all their events there, and they have a very handy Excel-based upload option that will appeal to publicists with large numbers of events.


* Chris (conceptDawg), whose favorite bookstores include Bienvielle Books, built much of LibraryThing Local. Send praise his way!
**We released LibrayThing Local to a private but non-exclusive beta group two weeks ago. Later, after deciding not to use others site’s data (see above), we let members add their own venues, and later events.
***Best of all the Alaskan-adder, alibrarian, has no connection to Alaska whatsoever. He just got tired adding every library in New York City.

Labels: authors, book world, bookstores, librarything local, new feature, new features, publicists, publishers

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

New feature: “Series”

Chris and I have added “series” to our Common Knowledge feature, creating a way to deal with book series like the Chronicles of Narnia, The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of Civilization or the Bluffer’s Guides.

We’ve started off simple:

  • A page for every series, with covers and titles.
  • A simple method of ordering works within a series.
  • A series-level tag cloud.
  • A mechanism for showing series overlap, as between the Chronicles of Narnia in publication and chronological order.

There’s a lot more we could potentially do. But this is just the sort of feature that should develop over time, with lots of input from users. Each series page has a short section on some of the important issues, and I’ve set up a Talk post for discussion.

I’ve also added fields for a work’s “Canonical Title” and “Canonical Author.” As of now, the values of these fields do not affect work or author titles. They will soon.

Labels: common knowledge, new feature, new features, series

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Fifteen new languages

The non-English LibraryThings are flourishing. Every day we move closer to the dream of a truly international community of book lovers—contributing to the community even when we don’t speak the same language.* Good sources have been critical. We’re going release a flurry of Spanish ones on Monday, and hundreds more in many languages are forthcoming soon. Equally important has been all the effort members have put into the translations. Participation has been really astounding—202 members have made at least 20 edits each. A few languages have been shouldered by a single member—moriarty with Albanian or avitkauskas with Lithuanian—but most have been a group endeavor.

At least a dozen languages are ready for general use. It’s time to introduce some more!

By and large, the languages above correspond to languages we hope to support with one or more sources. In some cases, as Armenian, we haven’t found a source yet, but we’re hopeful. In some cases, as with Korean, we haven’t yet figured out how to make our source work, but we haven’t exhausted our options. As always, we need help finding open Z39.50 connections.

PS: Don’t forget Basque. It’s still almost untranslated. We’ll be releasing a largely Basque-language library on Monday too.

*Notably, LibraryThing’s work system means that when it comes to a book that crosses boundaries, everyone counts. That is, if Albanian readers of Heinlein also enjoy Alfred Bester, that will count when it comes time to generate recommendations. Speaking of which, we have a site-wide re-think of recommendations going on. So, expect bumps.

Labels: languages, new feature, new features, new langauges

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

12 fonti italiane! (12 Italian sources!)

I have been cataloging my Italian books manually for months, but for the joy of all Italian readers, this is finally over! We’ve just added 12 new Italian sources!

It’s really no fun at all to enter book data field by field for hundreds of books, so I am sure all Italian Thingamabrarians will love the new sources! I’m personally really looking forward to cataloging books by scanning the ISBNs with my lovely CueCat!Anyway, this is a good news for all users: among the 12 new sources there’s the Vatican Library, which owns books in a number of languages, and the European University Institute Library in Florence, with a lot of books on social sciences and European studies in English.

Now, I know this is an English speaking blog, but I’m sure (well, I hope!) Tim and Abby wouldn’t mind some Italian … so, if you wanna read further and you’re not Italian, well, Babelfish is just one click away!

Da quando poco più di un anno fa LibraryThing è stato tradotto in italiano (e in più di 20 altre lingue) dagli utenti di LibraryThing (la pagina traduzioni è qui, se vuoi dare il tuo contributo!), il numero di utenti italiani è cresciuto insieme alle lamentele per la mancanza di una fonte di catalogazione ;-)

Biblioteche e non solo. Finalmente siamo in grado di aggiungere non una, ma ben 12 nuove fonti di catalogazione! Oltre a 11 biblioteche* abbiamo aggiunto anche una libreria online di Roma, DEAstore, perfetta per libri di recente pubblicazione. Non offre gli stessi dati delle biblioteche, ma ha delle copertine fantastiche!

Gruppi.
LibraryThing in inglese (e in alcune altre lingue) ha centinaia di gruppi di discussione molto attivi. I gruppi italiani non sono molto vivaci**, ma forse con qualche utente un più, possiamo rianimarli. Già, ma dove li troviamo altri utenti italiani? Ecco un piccolo incentivo!

Invita i tuoi amici e ricevi un account gratuito per te e per un tuo amico! Dal proprio profilo è possibile invitare i propri amici su LibraryThing. Non perdere tempo, regaliamo un account annuale per te e per un amico ai primi 15 che invitano un amico che cataloga almeno 15 libri!***
Non sei riuscito a convincere nessuno?! Prova a mostrare la visita guidata a LibraryThing.

Ma da quando Tim ha imparato l’italiano?! Beh, Tim non ha imparato l’italiano ;-) Da alcuni mesi LibraryThing ha un italiano nel suo team. Domande, dubbi, bugs? Scrivetemi! Nel frattempo, buona catalogazione a tutti!


* A parte il catalogo delle biblioteche Liguri, le altre nuove fonti sono biblioteche universitarie o di centri di ricerca. Se qualcuno conosce biblioteche italiane che supportano il formato Z39.50, possiamo cercare di aggiungerle. Scrivetemi!
** Adesso che abbiamo delle fonti di catalogazione, di cosa parleremo nei gruppi?!
*** Mandate il nome del vostro account e dell’account del vostro amico a giovannilibrarything.comPhoto credit: “Italian flag flying on top of Monte Sighignola photo by Flikr user ovuigner, used under a CC-Attribution license.

Labels: italy, new feature, new features, new libraries

Monday, December 10th, 2007

SantaThing: Secret Santas for LibraryThing!

UPDATE: We just (9pm) hit 100 Secret Santas, and a lot of interesting comments on them. Some users are confused about the money. The situation is this. When you sign up, you pay $25. When you get someone you pick out up to $20 worth of books, and tell us what they are—by ISBN presumably. We buy the gifts and pay the shipping. I suspect we’ll make or lose about $1 per Santa. This is hardly about the money.

It had to happen and here it is: SantaThing!

SantaThing is Secret Santa for LibraryThing members.

The idea is simple. Pay $25. You play Santa to a random LibraryThing member, and find them up $20 worth of books, based on their library or a short description. Someone else does the same to you. LibraryThing orders the books and pays the shipping, so no addresses are exchanged and no members are stalked!

Now, this isn’t just for you. You can also go in for someone you know—a relative or a friend. Describe their library a bit and someone will find them the perfect present. And you can become a Santa as many times as you like. So, for example, I entered myself and my wife. Heck, I might outsource all my Christmas buying to the LibraryThing community! :)

Lastly, even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others.

Crucial dates. This is going to end very soon.

  • Thursday, 12 Noon Eastern. Santa-signup ends. Secret Santas are picked.
  • Friday, 10pm Eastern. Submit gifts to LibraryThing. LibraryThing buys everything. According to Amazon, if it’s ordered before Tuesday it will make it by December 24.

Back story. I wanted to do this last year, but couldn’t get it out in time. This year I aimed low. You’ll notice it’s very basic. (You can make suggestions, but you can’t delete past suggestions, use touchstones, etc.) But, what the heck? It’s going to be gone in a week—it’s good enough!

Addendum: I haven’t even blogged it yet, and one user has already signed up. The “tastes” section was filled out as follows:

“Please refrain from choosing anything involving wizards, elves, dragons, swords, etc… or anything Oprah demands be read.”

Labels: new feature, new features, santathing, secret santa